A Palestinian family reacts after Israeli bulldozers demolished their home in the Arab East Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina, Feb. 5, 2013. (AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)
Newly elected Israeli Knesset member Yair Lapid (l), leader of the Yesh Atid party, speaks to Naftali Bennett, head of the hard-line national religious party the Jewish Home, during a Feb. 5 reception in Jerusalem marking the opening of the 19th Knesset. (URIEL SINAI/GETTY IMAGES)
Richard Curtiss at work in his Washington Report office. (STAFF PHOTO D. HANLEY)
Then-Vice President Dick Cheney (l) and Likud chairman Benyamin Netanyahu, out of office at the time and serving as the official Israeli opposition leader, at a March 23, 2008 breakfast meeting at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. (PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)
Philippine President Benigno Aquino III (r) shares candies with Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) chief Murad Ebrahim during a Feb. 11 visit to the rebels’ stronghold in Sultan Kudarat on the island of Mindanao. (KARLOS MANLUPIG/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)
Emad Burnat views his five broken cameras in his documentary of the same name. (PHOTO COURTESY KINO LORBER)
August 2012, Page 55
Journalists' Security On-Site and Online
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and Internews cohosted a June 13 panel discussion at the Human Rights Campaign headquarters in Washington, DC on security in the ever-changing world of journalism. Speakers promoted CPJ publications, including Attacks on the Press in 2011 and the new Journalist Security Guide, compiled by panelists Frank Smyth, CPJ senior adviser for journalist security, and Danny O'Brien, CPJ Internet advocacy coordinator. The two were joined by Rajiv Chandrasekaran, senior correspondent and associate editor of The Washington Post, and Kathleen Reen of Internews, an international non-profit organization whose mission is to empower local media worldwide.
Smyth, as the primary author of the Journalist Security Guide, which can be downloaded for free at <http://cpj.org/security/guide.pdf>, noted the shifting nature of the journalism industry in a dangerous and changing world. "Front-line news gatherers" are working with less "institutionalized support" than ever before, he stated. The number of free-lance journalists reporting on conflicts is increasing, Smyth added, and they are facing more violence.
"It's a double-barrel problem," O'Brien emphasized, "because there is increased interest in journalists as targets and decreased support for them." The Security Guide is intended as a go-to for journalists whose security is potentially at risk.
Chandrasekaran, who covered the U.S. invasion of Iraq as well as the war in Afghanistan, brought his real-world experience into the mix. As the Post's bureau chief in Baghdad, he said he found that journalists all too often appear in dangerous scenarios without the necessary background knowledge. Security is now a core aspect of reporting, he noted.
O'Brien, who is also a chief activist with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, focused on digital security. "Journalists say they will go to jail to protect their sources," he pointed out, but rarely follow through by securing their digital footprints to maintain that protection.
O'Brien also stressed the importance of lobbying companies like Facebook and Google to make their products more protective of data. In the case of the Arab Spring, governments utilized digital surveillance to an unparalleled degree, he said. Passwords for Tunisian Facebook and Yahoo users were "scooped up" by their government to prevent the spread of viral videos. O'Brien confirmed that the Egyptian government had hacked into Skype accounts to record conversations during the protests in 2011, and said that the Assad regime in Syria can conduct highly sophisticated surveillance on its citizens and journalists thanks to Russian-supplied hardware.
Panelists agreed that security in combat situations, as well as digital security, must be a high priority for journalists. A journalist is killed every 11 days, Smyth said, and in the face of a shifting structure in the field, "journalists must take responsibility for their own security." To view the discussion online visit <cpj.org/security/2012/06/spreading-the-security-message.php#more>.